Indy protestors join national rally
Although police radioed in to see if the rally was authorized before it had even begun, anti-war protestors demonstrated on Monument Circle Saturday afternoon. The rally, sponsored by the Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center and Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, was one of many rallies held nationwide. It was the sixth local rally against the Iraq war. Cheri Wallingford came to Monument Circle from Terre Haute to protest the war.“The occupation of Iraq is sliding into further war crimes and deepening violence against civilians,” said Cate Woods-Russo, one of the rally’s co-organizers. “We will not remain silent as more and more horrific images of abuse against Iraqi prisoners — many innocent detainees — and women and children continue to bombard us on the nightly news and in newspapers while George W. Bush is not held accountable and steadfastly lies to the people of this country.”
Protestors carried signs with messages like “Stop Mad Cowboy Disease” and “We can bomb a nation into pieces, but we cannot bomb a nation into peace!” The Communist Party USA had a booth, Nader supporters circulated a petition, masked demonstrators flanked an anti-government sign and activists held a voter registration drive.
Veterans for Peace member Joe Farah read a statement demanding impeachment of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft. Farah said the Iraq war is illegal under international and constitutional law.
Henry Garner from Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East told people to speak up. “Don’t let yourself simply fade away,” Garner said. “Let yourself feel the evil that’s going on. … We must not be silent for fear of being unpatriotic.”
Many of the speakers had tried to prevent the war in Iraq, and many of the protestors had been against the Iraq war since its inception. Jim Wolfe from the Common Bonds Voter Project said the number of protestors has declined since the beginning of the Iraq war. Farah, however, said there were fewer critics.
Passers-by honked and flashed peace signs. Some gave the thumbs-up sign, although at least two held up another digit. One became belligerent and yelled at some young protestors, who responded by throwing a Nazi salute.
Why do people continue protesting? “Because of the truth,” Wolfe said. He said he believes many are upset with Bush. “I think they’ll express their opinion at the polls, even if they don’t come out to a rally like this.”
Retired minister Bruce Patton agreed. “I think we should live out the teachings of Jesus,” said Patton, who held up a sign with a Bible verse urging people to overcome evil with good. “This return of violence for violence doesn’t work. War sows the seeds of another war.”
Poets and musicians performed for the crowd. Other speakers included Fran Quigley of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, activist and Unitarian Universalist minister Bill Breeden and peace activist Bret Eartheart. Charlie Wiles of the Peace Learning Center was the MC.